Frugal Film Project – Dale Rogers

It was a very windy and cloudy Summer’s day on Phillip Island, Australia when I loaded Ilford HP5+ for the very first time. My black and white film of choice is Kodak 400TX. I love the strong grain and rich black tones of 400TX and have bulk loaded most all of my recent cameras with this film. I don’t know why I have not used many Illford products. It may be because back in the day when film was king, I lived in the USA and did not see a lot of Illford products at the local stores and I pretty much shot color Kodak films because I liked the warmer tones over the Fujifilm emulsions.  

My frugal camera is a Fuji Cardia Travel Mini Wide-P with a 28mm lens that was gifted to me by my Emulsive Secret Santa. I am not a point and shoot photographer and this was my first true point and shoot film camera. I could not find a manual for this particular version of the Cardia, I think Fujifilm made hundreds of variations of this little shooter. There were (and still are) a couple of functions and buttons that I am not sure what they do. One button has a mountain image and I assumed it was to engage the panorama function but after reviewing my negatives, I was obviously wrong. I’m still not sure what that ‘Mountain’ button does, if you know, drop me a message below! 

The Cardia has a unique quick film loader that is pretty cool to use. The back door opens about ¼ of the way and you drop the film canister with a small leader and then close the door. It then spools the film onto the right side of the camera. As you take photos, the image counter counts back from 36 or 24 or however many exposures are on your film. At around frame 22, I noticed that as I was shooting and the frame counter was not moving. I’m not sure what I was doing but the camera sounded like the shutter fired but no frame advancement. After a few minutes of experimentation I realised I had to hold the shutter button longer and release when I heard the shutter and what I assume was the frame advancing to the next unexposed one. Perhaps this initial sound was the focus? I’m still not sure. 

I shot the whole roll in 2 days along a cliff top walk near my house and around our horse and paddock. I developed the HP5+ using TMAX developer and scanned the images with an Epson v550. I was immediately impressed with the level of shadow detail in the Illford film. The blacks seem a little softer than the Kodak 400TX but after importing the images into Lightroom, I was able to blacken the blacks, recover some shadow detail and get the images looking like I wanted. All in all, I am impressed with HP5+ versatility and flexibility.  

As for the Fuji Cardia Mini, I was also impressed with its performance. The little lens is incredibly sharp and exposures were very good. Now I just need to learn how to use all the features on this little camera. 

Out of my roll of 36 exposures I had about 20 keepers or images that I thought were good. This was a pretty high keeper rate for me using a camera for the first time. I had a hard time deciding which image I would use for the project but I have settled on this shot of the Pinnacles. This is about a 5k hike from my house and I have shot it thousands of times. I liked this shot because you can see the variations in texture between the rough granite cliffs, the soft cloudy sky, roaring water and wind swept Tussock Grass on the cliff edge. The Fuji Cardia Mini and Illford’s HP5+ did a great job pulling in all this detail on the day. 

Dale Rogers – photo rangers 

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